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What is Adaptive Bitrate Streaming and How It Works?

Adaptive Bitrate Streaming

Adaptive Bitrate Streaming – You must have encountered scenarios when you watched a video but left it in the middle because its quality is hazy. The video quality that the broadcasters provide becomes essential as many viewers will only sit around good streaming. Many viewers leave and abandon a low-quality stream within the first 90 seconds. Even a single problematic stream can have severe consequences for a company.

The problem is that the majority of users connect from their homes. The video quality may suffer from inconsistent bandwidth and network performance throughout the day. Different devices’ processing power and media playback capabilities also play a role.

This is why modern broadcasters must keep their audience in mind when developing an adaptive video streaming strategy. Adaptive bitrate streaming is the algorithm of choice for most organizations looking to improve the quality of their streams.

This article will go over adaptive bitrate streaming in depth. We will discuss what a streaming profile is and how ABR streaming works. Let’s get started. Try our free trial.

What is Adaptive Bitrate Streaming?

First, we must consider why adaptive playback is so important in streaming and how bitrates work. 

What is Streaming Bitrate?

The “video bitrate” is the rate at which video data is transmitted to a user’s device. Unlike video file size, which is typically measured in MegaBytes per second (MBps), streaming video bitrate is generally expressed in megabits per second (Mbps).

Buffering can happen when a user’s bitrate (also measured in Mbps) exceeds their bandwidth (also measured in Mbps). This is why you see the spinning icon while watching a video. The video will buffer if the video player is unable to download the video file at a fast enough rate.

Among the numerous factors that influence the quality of a streaming video are the following:

Video Resolution: A video’s resolution is the total number of pixels in a single frame. The most common online video resolutions are 480p, 720p, 1080p, and 4K. Sharper images are obtained by increasing the resolution, which is especially useful on larger screens.

Frame Rate: Broadcasters typically use a frame rate of 24 frames per second (fps), but higher rates of 30-60 fps may be used for streaming high-action events such as sports. However, increasing the frame rate to improve motion presentation necessitates collecting additional data.

Codec: It is widely assumed that higher bitrates in the video correspond to higher resolution and frame rate. Several video data compression codecs are available, but some perform better than others. H.264 and H.265 are two examples of modern video codecs that provide higher quality at lower bitrates.

What is Adaptive Bitrate Streaming?

Adaptive bitrate is a video streaming method that automatically adjusts the broadcast quality based on the user’s connection speed and device capabilities. Any viewer can watch the same stream with minimal delay regardless of connection speed. 

Using ABR and a transcoder, a single video source can be encoded to several versions at different bitrates. ABR videos are saved on a server and compressed to different bitrates ranging from 50 Kbps to 150 Kbps to 2,500 Kbps to 4,000 Kbps. If you cannot stream the 4000 Kbps version, the same movie is available at lower bitrates, such as 2,500 Kbps.

In contrast to other streaming technologies, such as RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol), ABR is designed to operate across widely dispersed HTTP networks and is entirely based on HTTP. This technique was developed in October 2002 by the DVD Forum WG1 Special Streaming group. ABR is now widely used in video-sharing websites such as YouTube, Twitch, and Netflix.

ABR will work regardless of how much data you send or how fast your computer is. Based on your screen size and the quality you require, you can choose the best rate for your TV, mobile device, laptop, or tablet.

ABR is a concept that applies not only to bitrates but also to audio quality and language. Investigate this adaptable technology in greater depth.

How Adaptive Bitrate Streaming Works?

ABR streaming is required to maximize video playback. But how can broadcasters use it?

1. Making a Video

The video content must be prepared before beginning ABR live streaming. The encoder must encode the video at multiple bitrates to accommodate the desired streaming profile. Most online video sites can typically convert videos into multiple formats from a single source file.

These encoded video files must be divided into several seconds chunks. Depending on the application, these video segments could last anywhere from 2 seconds to 10 seconds. This method is helpful for HTTP-based streaming protocols that download video segments at a time.

2. Going Into Action

Before it begins playing, a video player will download a manifest file that specifies the available video segments and bitrates. This manifest file contains the information that makes up a streaming profile: the.m3u8 playlist for HLS and the media presentation description (MPD) for DASH.

Following the manifest, the video player can quickly request the best video assets for the user’s device and connection. Playback will begin immediately when there is enough media data in the local buffer.

A regular web server can be used to store and serve a video stream due to the nature of HTTP. In other words, ABR is compatible with content delivery networks (CDNs), which can help reduce latency and packet loss and speed up delivery even further.

You can efficiently reach viewers worldwide using an adaptive bitrate streaming service and a global content delivery network (CDN).

3. Dynamic Playback

Most video players begin streaming at a low bit rate and then request higher or lower-quality video chunks to adapt to changing network conditions. Each player employs its own ABR algorithm to determine which bitrate to download next.

Typically, video players use either a throughput or a buffer selection method. Algorithms calculate the optimal bitrate for the next segment based on the rate of video chunk downloads so far. During real-time broadcasts, a throughput estimate may be out of sync with the encoder’s bitrate.

Buffer-based algorithms strive to keep them free of new video frames. If the local buffer is empty, the bitrate will be reduced to keep up with playback. The challenge is determining how much bitrate reduction is required to fill the buffer without significantly compromising quality.

Some versatile artists offer a third option that combines the two; for example, many softwares constantly monitor their download speed and may change bit rates mid-download to maintain a high buffer occupancy. More sophisticated machine-learning algorithms may also gain traction in the coming years. These computerized systems offer cutting-edge adaptive playback.

What is the difference between adaptive bitrate streaming and traditional methods?

In adaptive bitrate streaming, the video file is delivered differently than in other types of streaming. Multi-bitrate streaming (MBR), like adaptive bitrate streaming (ABR), involves initial transcoding into multiple distinct bitrates. Unlike ABR, MBR streaming does not attempt to detect the user’s conditions automatically and instead uses the highest bitrate possible. Alternatively, the user can select the bitrate at which they want to watch the movie, and the player will play the file at that bit rate regardless of how fast or slow their internet connection is.

On the other hand, Progressive streaming sends a single video file over the internet without being transcoded into different bitrates. The same file will be streamed to all users, and it may be scaled up or down to fit their screens depending on their bandwidth and device quality.

Streaming methods that do not use the adaptive bitrate “ladder” and automatically adapt to your settings may cause problems with the user experience, such as buffering, higher latency, or reduced quality. As a result, ABR is an excellent tool for increasing your brand’s credibility and improving customer service

Why is adaptive bitrate a game changer in streaming?

Assume you have a single 720p video file (1280 x 720). And you’re making it available to people all over the world via various devices by broadcasting it online. A single video file would be sent to all those endpoints if adaptive bitrate streaming was not used.

How did things turn out? When viewed on a lower-resolution device, such as a smartphone, the 720p video will cause buffering; when viewed on a higher-resolution device, such as a desktop computer, the pixels will be too large to be seen clearly. This method is described as progressive video streaming.

ABR distinguished between the issues of consistent quality and decreased buffering that progressive video streaming cannot resolve.

The main benefit of adaptable bitrate is that it can change. ABR will automatically adjust the image to avoid stretching or pixelation when you play your movies on a device with an unsupported screen resolution. As your connection improves, ABR will begin downloading higher-quality video segments automatically. The video will continue to load with ABR even if your network is overcrowded or stressed.

The more adaptable ABR became, the more it displaced the outmoded progressive video streaming method.

How to do Adaptive Bitrate Streaming

Broadcasters must make several decisions regarding streaming protocols, bitrates, and video players in order to provide adaptive bitrate streaming. You must make the following decisions to provide adaptive bit streaming to your audience.

What Streaming Protocol Should I Use?

A streaming protocol is required to send media files over the internet. Some protocols, for example, are better suited for low-latency transmissions, whereas others can handle adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming.

Although it was once the industry standard, Real-time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) has largely been phased out as a consumer-facing streaming protocol. A video encoder can still send data to an OVP using RTMP, but this protocol was never intended for adaptive bitrate streaming. Although Flash Player is supported for streaming, most browsers now use HTML5 video players as the default.

Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH), a relatively new protocol, is gaining traction. It works with all modern browsers and supports a wide range of codecs, hence the alternative name “MPEG-DASH.” Although HTML5 streaming does not directly support the MPEG-DASH protocol, it is supported by a wide range of players due to the use of JavaScript and Media Source Extensions (MSEs).

HTTP live streaming is the protocol of choice for HTML5 video players (HLS). This is significant because the video player is the master of ABR streaming. HLS has always supported H.264, but it also supports H.265/HEVC. The protocol uses 10-second video segments by default, but certain video players support shorter segments to accommodate users with slower internet connections.

What Bitrate Should I Use When Streaming?

It is recommended to provide a variety of bitrates with varying quality levels. Your intended audience determines the best bitrates to use.

The following are some standard bitrate configurations.

  • 360-degree video at speeds ranging from 400 Kbps to 1000 Kbps.
  • A bandwidth of 500 Kbps to 2 Mbps is required for 480p video (1 Mbps = 1000 Kbps).
  • For 720p video, 1.5-4 Mbps is recommended.
  • For 1080p video, expect 3-6 Mbps.

We’ve made some suggestions for configuring the HLS adaptive bitrate streaming encoder. We recommend maintaining a bitrate of around 1000 Kbps so all users can enjoy your videos. Those with the hardware and Internet speed to support higher bitrates will have a better viewing experience.

What is Adaptive Bitrate Streaming Using Javascript? 

The video player is required for ABR live streaming. HTML5 players, such as Video.js and others based on JavaScript, have the ability to broadcast ABR natively. As a result, we can be confident that they are adaptable media players.

Video adaption players not only use an ABR algorithm to determine the best bitrate for the video stream, but they also select a video file that is optimized for the user’s device’s display size. This ensures that the user is always provided with high-quality video.

The prevalence of ABR-enabled video players built with JavaScript and HTML5 would benefit broadcasters. Because of their integration with web browsers, these players improve the user experience and are standard on almost every device. Because of JavaScript, brands can reach more people through adaptive streaming.

Benefits of Adaptive Bitrate Streaming

Adaptive bitrate streaming successfully met the following primary design objectives for the video-watching experience:

Improve performance.

Regardless of the viewers’ network speeds, video is delivered at the highest available bitrate.

Reduce the time you spend waiting for data to load.

The ABR system efficiently pre-fetches and caches segments before they are rendered on your audience’s devices, resulting in fewer pauses during playback.

Maintain the image’s stability.

ABR can dynamically switch bitrates based on the device’s screen size and network connection.

What makes adaptive bitrate streaming the best choice?

You’re probably aware that ABR is the best method for delivering streaming services. Let’s go over some of the benefits of ABR streaming that make it the best choice.

Excellence in User Experience

Among the available streaming options, adaptive streaming has been found to cause the fewest interruptions. It eliminates buffering issues and makes the material suitable for a wide range of devices, enhancing everyone’s viewing experience.

Load times and video playback have been improved.

Adaptive bitrate streaming allows for a faster start time because it processes low-quality video versions initially and then upgrades to HD quality based on the user’s network capacity.

Specifically designed for mobile use.

The number of people watching videos on their phones and tablets is increasing. As a result, your platform must support users watching videos on a wide range of screen sizes and shapes.

Improves the brand’s image

Your audience will never forget the first time they saw a video stream without interruptions. It will increase the credibility and professionalism of your streaming company.

Adaptive Bitrate Streaming by Inkrypt Videos

The experts at Inkrypt Videos have mastered the art of Adaptive Bitrate Streaming by using each user’s optimal settings and configurations. The internet situation, operating system, screen size, and browser supportability are the aspects that are also looked after.

Our ABR streaming has been tried and tested by hundreds of satisfied customers worldwide and has consistently delivered flawless videos.

More than that, as a content development team, we recognize the importance of video surveillance in protecting your company’s assets. We’ll work with you to keep people from illegally viewing, downloading, or recording your videos.

We assist with all aspects of video hosting, including uploading, management, and encoding, and we only use the most advanced security measures when serving your films. This will not only help you with the numerous video hosting and security features, but it will also reduce the strain on your servers.

Using our embed codes, you can easily embed films from Inkrypt Videos on your website. SDKs for both iOS and Android are included. Inkrypt is also your best bet for ensuring the security of your video recordings. You can rest assured that your videos will not be stolen because they are protected by High-end DRM encryption. Additionally, with the help of screen recording, both iOS and Android apps can be protected. In any case, the website has dynamic watermarking to prevent screen grabs.


The best user experience is one of the best ways for video streaming services to stand out in the crowded streaming market. You’ll be able to watch videos without interruptions once you understand the value of ABR streaming. If you lack the necessary resources, ABR implementation can be complex. To offer your customers adaptive bitrate streaming, you should use video streaming software that supports the HTM5 player. You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for information on adaptive bitrate streaming players. Please get in touch with us if you require any additional assistance or support. Thanks for reading You can now subscribe to the service and enjoy a free month 

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